MSc Actuarial Science and Management

The course

Full-time, Part-time, Per course
Course type
Entry date

You've completed a degree that shows you think logically (eg mathematics). But now you want an excellent career with an excellent salary and a great work life balance. Our MSc in Actuarial Science and Management gets you there in only 2 years.


Got questions about this programme?

Contact our enquiries team.


Actuaries are professionals with expertise in risk management and this is usually applied in the world of insurance. Our MSc in Actuarial Science and Management takes you through the required exams almost to the point of qualification with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK.

The degree is two years long and covers mathematical subjects in the first year and application of those mathematical subjects in the second year.

In addition, in the second year it is also possible to take courses in machine learning.

Actuaries work in the areas life insurance, general insurance, pensions, investment and banking mostly, but also more widely in fund management companies, hedge funds, consultancies, software vendors and regulatory authorities.

The career is fun in that you are regularly applying your mathematical skills to solve problems and predict the future.

Salaries are typically high (a newly qualified actuary in the UK usually earns between £50,000 and £60,000 each year) and the work-life balance is excellent.


The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK sets exam-based entry requirements in order to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and so become an actuarial professional.

The MSc in Actuarial Science and Management is fully accredited with the IFoA which means that the subjects you study on our program lead to exemptions from the corresponding subjects with the IFoA.

In year one of the programme you study courses that correspond with exemptions from IFoA subject codes: CB1, CB2, CM1, CM2, CS1 and CS2.

In year two of the programme you study your choice of courses that correspond with exemptions from IFoA subject codes: CP1, CP2, CP3, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6 and SP9.  Typically students choose courses linking to subjects CP1, CP2 and CP3 and also three of the "SP" subjects.  (However, only two "SP" subjects are actually required by the IFoA.)

Alternatively, in the second year, one of the "SP" subjects can be replaced by courses in Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance.  Although not an IFoA exemption subject, machine learning is being increasingly applied by actuaries and is a growth area in the future.

Courses linked to IFoA subject code SP9 also gain you the internationally recognised Certified Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) qualification.

Why Study at Heriot-Watt?

Heriot-Watt University was the first in the UK to offer a degree in actuarial science.  We have been leading the way in the UK ever since and built a wonderful teaching team of world renowned academics and experienced industry professionals.  Each year we enable between 100 and 200 students to gain exemptions from actuarial subjects.  We also understand that you need to be ready for the business world and able to interview well.  We develop these softer skills too, and develop your ethics, so you will become an excellent capable professional.

Heriot-Watt University is the only Centre of Actuarial Excellence (as recognised by the society of actuaries (SOA) – North America) in Europe.

We excel in student surveys (this mostly relates to teaching quality) and our research output is world class. 

Why choose Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a wonderful city close to the sea in Scotland in the United Kingdom.  Heriot-Watt Edinburgh campus is established just to the west of the city in a beautiful green space.  Transport links into the city centre are regular and travel by bus takes thirty minutes – and so you can choose the mix of city and campus life that you like best. 

Edinburgh is the financial heart of Scotland and many such companies are based there.  It is also a centre of arts and culture, with the famous Edinburgh International Festival taking place in August each year.

It is built on seven hills, and views regularly emerge and surprise as you walk the cobbled streets in the old town, or explore the beautiful sandstone buildings in the new town.  Edinburgh Castle rises high in the centre of Edinburgh and is a big attraction for tourists.

Access to all other cities in the UK is straightforward, with fast travel to London for instance taking only 4 hours.

September 2023 entry

The deadline for applications from Scottish and RUK students is 31 August 2023. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by the 8 August 2023.

Course content

In the first year the main course teaching takes place in two semesters. Students must take three compulsory courses: Financial Mathematics, Life Insurance Mathematics 1 and Life Insurance Mathematics 2. All other courses are optional. In order to be eligible for exemptions from all of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries subjects CM1, CM2, CS1, CS2, CB1 and CB2, all optional courses must be taken. However it is possible to reduce your workload in the first year by taking a subset of these options.

Year 1

Semester 1

Mandatory courses
  • Financial Mathematics
  • Life Insurance Mathematics 1
Optional courses
  • Economics
  • Finance and Financial Reporting
  • Statistical Methods
  • Stochastic Modelling

Semester 2

Mandatory courses
  • Life Insurance Mathematics 2
Optional courses
  • Survival Models
  • Risk Theory
  • Financial Economics 1
  • Financial Economics 2
  • Data Analytics and Time Series Analysis

Progression to the second year of the degree requires an average mark of 60% over all examinations taken at the first attempt, with a grade C required in each of the mandatory courses.

In the second year the main course teaching also takes places in the first and second semesters. Students take (strictly) four courses in each of these semesters and courses are 'paired'. Each pair is linked to an exemption from one of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ exemption subjects, except for the 'Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance' pair (which covers skills currently outside the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries syllabus).

Students must take courses associated with exemption subject 'CP1', and then choose courses in order to secure exemption from two 'SP' subjects and obtain machine learning skills, or secure exemption from three 'SP' subjects.

The courses, and the corresponding actuarial exemption subject they are linked to (where applicable) are as follows.

Year 2

Semester 1

Mandatory courses
  • Actuarial Risk Management 1 (CP1)

Optional courses

  • Life Insurance 1 (SP2)
  • Pensions A (SP4)
  • Financial Markets (SP5)
  • Derivative Markets and Pricing (SP6)
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis (SP9)
  • Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 1

Semester 2

Mandatory courses
  • Actuarial Risk Management 2 (CP1)

Optional courses

  • Life Insurance 2 (SP2)
  • Pensions B (SP4)
  • Finance and Investment (SP5)
  • Advanced Derivative Pricing (SP6)
  • Risk Management: Techniques and Tools (SP9)
  • Machine Learning for Risk and Insurance 2

In semester 3 students undertake two actuarial/business related case studies or a single longer project with a supervisor from a company in the UK financial industry. The submitted work, and exams that take place in semester 3, are both linked to exemptions from Institute and Faculty of Actuaries subjects CP2 and CP3.

Entry requirements

The programme is primarily intended for graduates with a strong mathematical/logical background. Our normal minimum entry requirement is the equivalent of a UK 2.1 degree in mathematics or statistics, or a related discipline with a high mathematics or statistics content (such as economics or physics for instance).

The degree is challenging and it is necessary to be able to work hard and to have a strong drive to succeed.

English language requirements

Important: If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we'll need to see evidence of your English language ability.

The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5, we also accept TOEFL (scores of 79 and higher).

We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master's programme:

  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)


Tuition fees for entry
Status Full-time Part-time Per course
UK £21520 £10760 £2690
Overseas £21520 £10760 £2690


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Fee per course (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.
  3. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional fees information

Applicants should be advised that fees for the second year of the programme will be confirmed in January 2024.

Year 2 - Tuition fees
Status Full-time Part-time Per course
UK tbc tbc tbc
Overseas tbc tbc tbc

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.